Disney vows to fight Florida ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill which limits LGBT+ teachings in schools

Florida governor Ron DeSantis signing the bill into law. Credit: AP

Disney says it is committed to repealing the "Don’t Say Gay" bill, after the controversial legislation was written into law in Florida.

The company said the bill “should never have passed” and said it was working with both national and state organisations to have it repealed.

On Monday the Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed the bill into law, despite growing criticism that it marginalises LGBT+ people.

The bill does not outright ban instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from pre-school to third grade, but it does say it should not be taught when it is not "age appropriate or developmentally appropriate."

Key to this is parents have the power to sue schools if they believe the education their child is receiving breaches the law, meaning many schools will likely decide it is not worth the risk.

The White House has repeatedly sparred with the Florida government over the bill. Credit: AP

For teachers in Florida, the bill has caused some confusion over what is allowed in the classroom as well as concerns over frivolous lawsuits.

The legislation has pushed Florida and Mr DeSantis, an ascending Republican and potential 2024 presidential candidate, to the forefront of the country's culture wars, with LGBT+ advocates, students, Democrats, the entertainment industry and the White House denouncing what critics have called the “Don't Say Gay” bill.

In a statement, the Walt Disney Company said: “Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law.

“Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organisations working to achieve that.

“We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”

The bill has sparked protests across Florida. Credit: AP

Public backlash began almost immediately after the bill was introduced, with early criticism lobbed by Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and condemnation from LGBT+ advocacy groups.

Florida students staged walkouts and packed into committee rooms and statehouse halls to protest the measure, often with booming chants of “We say gay!”

Democratic President Joe Biden called it “hateful.” As the bill moved through the legislature, celebrities mobilized against it on social media, and criticised it at this year’s Oscars.

Disney and its CEO, Bob Chapek, were previously criticised for their slow response and not using its sizeable influence in the state to quash the Bill.

Earlier this month Disney suspended its political donations in the state, and its theme park workers staged walkouts over the lack of action.